Friday, July 30, 2010

7 Quick Takes: First-Timer Edition

Okay fine. FINE I'll succumb to the temptation and deny the trepidation and join the ranks of the 7-Quick-Takers. So.

We are in the midst of our annual fly infestation. It is embarrassing to admit but I don't think it's our fault... that is, I don't know if I even want to know what causes it, or where it comes from. But the thing is, come it does, every year around this time. It starts this way: we'll notice one evening when a light has been left on in the kitchen that there is a big dumb fly buzzing around. So we'll take out our awesome (I know, but it is!) fly swatter and kill it, and then there will be another one, so we'll kill that one, and on and on it goes. Or, we'll kill one, go watch a tv show, come back to find 7 flies. It can really give one the creeps, and remind one of a horror movie.

Two: (am i doing this right?)
Kristen left yesterday, my church-friend-who-became-a-top-ten-friend... she and her husband Chip left for what they call "home" however much we would have preferred to call HERE home. I guess everyone's entitled to decide where home is, but... harumph. Anyway, I decided to be adult and rational about it all and not cry, and I totally pulled it off until she drove away and I was instantly transported back in time to all the good-byes with all the friends I had in elementary school and high school who moved away. It happened to us a lot more than the average kid, I imagine, because we lived in a Navy Town. Still, it's so much easier to keep in touch nowadays, it's not going to be like it was then. Dammit.

I promised myself three things this Summer: 1) that I would stop buying medium Iced Coffees at Dunkin Donuts, and only buy smalls, because really, I only need smalls. 2) that I would write my book ("Confirmation Doesn't Have To Suck"), and 3) that I would finally read Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy. So far, I'm 98% on the smalls, and I bought and started HHG the other night (it's good! I read it with a British accent... is that normal?) but so far, I'm still in the "pre-writing" stage of my book.

I got asked!! I was at the pet-store looking for soft cat food* and a woman said to me "so, why are you Catholic?" I have had this blue pin on my pocketbook since the Springtime. I've worn it clear across country and to a Catholic conference, and this is the first time a stranger has asked me the question. I thanked her for asking, and said my prepared statement: "I'm Catholic because I was brought into the Church by my family- but I'm still Catholic because I really believe God wants me to be..." I was ready to go on, but she jumped in to tell me her story- that she'd been baptized Catholic but has fallen away- her kids FOUGHT her on CCD- she's been praying a lot lately and it's changing her perspective on things, making her more thoughtful- she feels lost in Mass a lot. I confess that I recommended our parish, but didn't admit that I work there- is that wrong? But what I really realized in this conversation is that people who would ask that question want to tell their own stories too. I have a lot to think about...

I'm going to dinner at a friend's house tomorrow night, and I'm in charge of an appetizer. I am stumped. I keep coming back to things in puff pastry, because it's so easy and impressive looking. And yummy. I just bought sunflower and sesame seeds to make non-carby, non-cracker crackers, but I can't imagine inflicting those on someone who eats carbs/real crackers... I mean, I'm sure they'll be great. But. PUFF PASTRY.

*Our cats are 15 and 16. Zarley, the oldest, has cut way back on her athletics, and doesn't try to jump up on as many things anymore. We have stools and steps all over the house for her to get up on the furniture, and water bowls in odd places- one on the bedside stand, one on the bathroom floor, one on the coffee table. Now, Pip who has not seemed to age in the past 9 years is suddenly needing a step up to the bathroom sink, which is where she prefers to drink. She used to jump up there and MEOW at me until I would come to turn on the faucet. Now she sits on the bathroom floor and MEOWs until I come in and open the shower curtain so she can jump up. I know it's wrong to pray that something will never die but I do.

I've resisted this 7QT thing because I wasn't sure if using another "meme" to blog with (along with the Simple Woman's Daybook) was cheating, or if my reader(s) would think so. Plus, it's kind of a lot of pressure to come up with seven things! In fact, I had written for #4 "oh crap, I have nothing left. Now what?" but happily thought of something and went back. I guess this is an Every Friday kind of thing, and that's a big commitment for one such as I, but I guess I'll give it a go. You can read a TON of 7QT-ers over at

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pet Peeves

When I was a kid, some random day, I came across the David Letterman daytime show. In my memory it was a real clunker, but I clearly remember that they polled the audience with this question: What is your pet peeve?
I gave that question a lot of thought at the time (I was in 6th grade, and old enough to mull the deeper questions in life). I decided, at the time, that my pet peeve was wet toilet seats.
I still really don't like wet toilet seats. But the question has stuck with me, unlike any of the math I was taught in high school.
But today I decided on my newest pet-peeve, and it's beeping. When my neigbor unlocks her car doors, the car beeps 4 times. Our new copy machine at work beeps constantly, and then keeps beeping until you take the original off the glass. Today we sat in the dining room of the rectory having a meeting and a truck backed up somewhere, forever. beep beep beep beep beep.
My cell phone beeps every time I press a button. Is that necessary? Really???
I know, it's a losing battle. But maybe by putting this thought out into the world, some manufacturer will take a look at his/her product and determine that it doesn't necessarily have to BEEP.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sorry State Of My Garden

I took a stroll out to the raised bed to see what condition it's in, seeing as I haven't been by in so long. It was overrun with weeds! How did that happen?? I yanked them all out, which was easy because they were all LARGE. Pleased with my excellent gardening work for the day, I wandered around to the other side to see a bazillion tiny ants running around through the bed frantically, with what looked like EGGS in their mouths. Sorry ants. I guess the lack of activity had convinced them they were in a nice, safe (and shady) neighborhood. Hope it all turns out okay for them.
For those of you lathering for an update on my gardens, here is some photographic evidence:

The good news is, our vinca plants look wicked cool on the fence around the end of our deck! Yay!

...but my flower box, once glorious, is past its prime and all leggy. I dead-headed those pansies religiously!! But there are only a scraggly few blooms left. At least it's green. Ish.

Meanwhile, these rogue pansies that planted themselves on the edge of our driveway- having to ferret out a spot between the pavement and the "weed blocker" fabric- are going great guns!!! What the heck???

And the saddest news of all: remember how HARD we worked to move the grass from where we put the raised ant-farm-I-mean-raised-bed? Well, it's all dead. Not even the fact that it was 103% clover saved it from the July heat and rainlessness. So sad. Maybe it's just sleeping, and it'll come back next year. Probably.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

one tomato two

I made a tomato!! A RED tomato!! Check it out!!!

How did I do it, you ask? Well I made my own "topsy turvy" tomato grower out of a fabric shopping bag:

Scott thinks it looks "redneck" but I think it's nice. And now I have a tomato!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ask, and keep on asking.

This Sunday's Gospel is about prayer. In Luke's version, Jesus' disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. He teaches them what we call the Lord's Prayer or the Our Father. But then comes the kicker: He tells them to ASK for what they want. And, He seems to say that if we don't get what we are asking for, we should KEEP ASKING.
This touches on one of my spiritual tender spots.
As a kid I was, I think, trained not to ask for things. In fact my Mom, in her special way, advised me to keep my expectations low, so that if things turned out well, I'd be so glad! I remember, too, visiting former neighbors at their apartment one Sunday after Mass. The old couple had a big bowl of candies on the coffee table, and kept offering them to me- and I accepted every one! I was told on the way home that when people offer things to me, I should say no, thank you. Later, visiting our uncle who loved to make things out of wood (like little outhouses...!) I was scolded for turning down his offer of an outhouse, because it hurt his feelings. I remember clearly being VERY confused about this. Don't ask for things, don't accept things when they're offered, but then again, sometimes, do.
I also remember from my childhood hearing a sermon that really clicked with me. The priest said that we are not to pray to God and ask for things like we ask Santa for Christmas presents. He told us to pray "Thy will be done." It sounded right to me, and that's how I have prayed for many many years.
But in Sunday's Gospel, in Luke's version, that line of the prayer is not included! Jesus just advises us to ask for what we want from God, or at least for what we need, and not to quit until we know we have been heard. It seems to go against everything I've been taught about asking.
In a way, I want to ask God. I want God to know what I want, need, wonder about- and I want answers from God. But... I can't imagine that my prayer is going to change God's mind. So, if God already knows what we need (which is what Matthew's Gospel says in introducing his version of the Lord's Prayer) then why bother?
But Jesus says ASK, and ASK is my word of the year, so... I'm gonna start asking.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Summer is tough for a low-carber. I mean, it shouldn't be, because grilled meat is everywhere, and it is indeed a staple of my diet. But with the meat comes corn, and strawberry shortcake, and... well, it's tough. Summer is full of cookouts and parties and trips to the ice cream place and smores.
So this week I'm grounded. No snackies, no sweet splurges- just low, low carbs.
This is the good news about being a low-carber- when you're grounded, you're grounded to really great food! Tonight, as punishment for my carb excesses, I had to choke down a delicious dinner of Flat Iron steak and grilled broccoli, both smothered in bleu cheese sauce. Oh LORD it was good. And I will wake up lighter tomorrow for it. How cool is that??

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blah blah blah! (Also, LEX.)

This week we started up another round of LEX, which is my oh-so-clever name of our small-group Lectio Divina gatherings at the parish. This time around I've marketed it to young adults, which makes it a group I technically shouldn't be allowed to attend, given my advanced age.
(oooh by the way I came up with a theme for my next year... no, no I already have a Word Of The Year for my calendar year, remember? It's ASK. So far so good! This one's for my birthday-starting-year. Starting mid-august it'll be the year of "Forty-2ne-up*"! I'll be tuning up my...self. Get it?)
We an easy-breezy version of Lectio, which has a list of steps that varies depending on where you google it. We do a quick intro, then have one volunteer read Sunday's gospel.
(I am growing aware of how many commas I use when I write. I write like I talk, and apparently I speak in long, long sentences. If you are like me, you will be out of breath by the time you finish reading one of my sentences. What, you don't breathe differently according to what you read?)
Then we invite people to share their word or phrase or image that has "spoken" to them in the reading. (We have already, in the intro, invited them to listen prayerfully for such a thing.)
Then another volunteer reads the Gospel, and then we share our thoughts and whatnots.(Ooh wouldn't that be a great blog title? Thoughts and Whatnots!)
(I have been resisting taking part in Conversion Diary Jen's Seven Quick Takes, but maybe I'm actually doing it here. I am in super random mode, or what my friend Nancy used to call "random search")
I do a little bit of research on the reading so that I can fill in the contextual and exegetical details, which is nice because that directs our discussion and gives it some weight. It means we aren't just sitting around talking about our opinions on the text, or saying things like "huh, I wonder why it says that?"
I love LEX because always always always, someone says something that makes me think about the reading in a new way. This Sunday's Martha/Mary story is one I've heard a million times, and heard parsed a thousand times. It's always "are you a Martha? Or are you a Mary?" But this time we hotly debated the use of "distracted" vs. "burdened" in different translations, for instance.
In this new year of focusing on the liturgical Calendar at the parish, I think LEX-ing is going to be a great practice to...practice... with my fellow parishioners. Fun stuff!
*If I could get a job giving things nifty names, I would be a rich rich girl. Need something named? Let me know.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A YM at heart

I visited Scott and the kids at camp last night, and once again I felt the ache.
First of all, the camp is so great- the energy is high and the kids are high, by Thursday, on what good they've done for the world, and in new relationships with Jesus. They are suddenly fluent about their faith where they might not have had the vocabulary to express it before, or where they might have been unaware of God's love before. The room is full of changed people, people in love- the energy comes from that, and it's palpable. There's something about going away and doing something different, and being surrounded by people who show you that this is possible because of God's love...
I fought off teariness all night- you know crowd happiness makes me cry (remember, I cry at parades and at crowds cheering and at displays of school spirit...) and this room, it was a combination of all three. But it wasn't just that-
You know how women who want babies have that ache when they see babies on the street? I get that ache when I see great Youth Ministry going on. I miss that beautiful honor of accompanying young people on their Emmaus walks- I miss being a witness to the lighting of that spark in their eye. I miss being a matchmaker, introducing kids to the real Love of their life. I miss getting to know the best sides of kids, that they only let show (or only come to realize themselves) when they are away on retreat or at camp. I miss it.
I was introduced to the camp director last night, and Scott told him I'm doing adult ministry now- he asked me if I thought I'd stay there, and I said "I really love my ministry but I think I'll always be a Youth Minister."

Friday, July 02, 2010

What to do, what to do?

Today is not the first day of a vacation. But it is the first day of a long weekend (interrupted by a short work day on Sunday), followed by a week of Scottlessness, as he heads to Catholic Heart Workcamp. I have been weirdly moody as I stare down the barrel of this week, at moments looking forward to missing Scott and at other moments dreading sleeping without him. It's going to be very different around here for a week! It's good for us to be apart briefly like this, I think, because it reminds us how much we love to be together (I think of that line "how can I miss you if you never go away?"), and it feeds my inner introvert (I always think I'll use time like this to catch up with friends and whatnot, but instead I cocoon myself and speak very little, and recharge), so that when he comes back I am refreshed and renewed- like after a retreat- and SO excited to see him.
I will be working all week of course, but my office-mate will also be away, which means I can turn my music up and talk to myself at my desk all I want, two conditions that increase my productivity about a bazillion percent. I'm planning on doing some serious writing done, specifically on my workshops for my grad school internship, and lots of stuff for next Fall's programming at the parish. Oooh I can't wait!
Today I had a couple of chores to do- just grocery shopping and kitchen cleaning, because tomorrow some revelers are coming to celebrate the 3rd of July (the real holiday here in our town). After that Scott left to do his own errands and I was at a loss. With this stretch of time lined up before me I feel like a kid at an amusement park- which ride to do first (or more like me, which fried food to eat first)? Should I nap? Read my book? Do some project? Clean out my closet? Take a long, luscious shower? Watch an old movie? Cook something? Aughhhh it's all too beautiful. I took my book out on the porch, read till I fell asleep. Then I watched a junky talk show on tv!! Woo!